Killers of the Flower Moon

by

David Grann

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The new director of the bureau of intelligence in 1925, a particular and imposing man whose short stature, paranoia, and germaphobia make him a contradictory but singular figure. Hoover, desperate to maintain control over and fully restructure the bureau in a consolidation of federal power, assigns Tom White to the Osage murders and urges him to produce positive results—not out of a desire for justice, but because of Hoover’s own interests in proving to his superiors that he deserves even more power over the fledgling organization.

J. Edgar Hoover Quotes in Killers of the Flower Moon

The Killers of the Flower Moon quotes below are all either spoken by J. Edgar Hoover or refer to J. Edgar Hoover. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and Exploitation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Killers of the Flower Moon published in 2018.
Chapter 8 Quotes

When Hoover met with White, his grip on power remained tenuous, and he was suddenly confronting the one thing that he'd done everything to avoid since becoming director: a scandal. The situation in Oklahoma, Hoover believed, was “acute and delicate.” Even a whiff of misconduct coming so soon after Teapot Dome could end his career. Only weeks earlier, he'd sent a “confidential” memo to White and other special agents, stating, “This Bureau cannot afford to have a public scandal visited upon it.”

As White listened to Hoover, it became evident why he'd been summoned. Hoover needed White—one of his few experienced agents, one of the Cowboys—to resolve the case of the Osage murders and thereby protect Hoover's job. “I want you,” Hoover said, to “direct the investigation.”

Related Characters: David Grann (speaker), J. Edgar Hoover (speaker), Tom White
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

White was feeling pressure not just from Hoover. In the short time that White had been on the case, he had seen the lights burning each night around the homes of the Osage, and seen that members of the community wouldn't let their children go into town alone, and seen more and more residents selling their homes and moving to distant states or even other countries like Mexico and Canada. (Later one Osage called it a “diaspora.”) The desperation of the Osage was unmistakable, as was their skepticism toward the investigation. What had the U.S. government done for them? Why did they, unlike other Americans, have to use their own money to fund a Justice Department investigation? Why had nobody been arrested? An Osage chief said, “I made peace with the white man and lay down my arms never to take them up again and now I and my fellow tribesmen must suffer.”

Related Characters: David Grann (speaker), Tom White, William K. Hale, J. Edgar Hoover
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

For Hoover, the Osage murder investigation became a showcase for the modern bureau. As he had hoped, the case demonstrated to many around the country the need for a national, more professional, scientifically skilled force. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote of the murders, “Sheriffs investigated and did nothing. State's Attorneys investigated and did nothing. The Attorney General investigated and did nothing. It was only when the Government sent Department of Justice agents into the Osage country that law became a thing of majesty.”

Hoover was careful not to disclose the bureau's earlier bungling. He did not reveal that Blackie Thompson had escaped under the bureau's watch and killed a policeman, or that because of so many false starts in the probe other murders had occurred. Instead, Hoover created a pristine origin story, a founding mythology in which the bureau, under his direction, had emerged from lawlessness and overcome the last wild American frontier.

Related Characters: David Grann (speaker), J. Edgar Hoover, Blackie Thompson
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

Hoover ensured that the identity of the bureau was indistinguishable from his own. And while presidents came and went, this bureaucrat, now thick around the waist and with jowls like a bulldog, remained. “I looked up and there was J. Edgar Hoover on his balcony, high and distant and quiet, watching with his misty kingdom behind him, going on from President to President and decade to decade,” a reporter for Life magazine wrote. The many details of Hoover's abuses of power would not be made public until after his death, in 1972, and despite White's perceptiveness, he was blind to the boss man's megalomania, his politicization of the bureau, and his paranoid plots against an ever-growing list of perceived enemies, among them American Indian activists.

Related Characters: David Grann (speaker), J. Edgar Hoover
Page Number: 252
Explanation and Analysis:
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J. Edgar Hoover Character Timeline in Killers of the Flower Moon

The timeline below shows where the character J. Edgar Hoover appears in Killers of the Flower Moon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8: Department of Easy Virtue
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
History, Truth, and Lies Theme Icon
...Investigation’s field office in Houston—receives an urgent summons from headquarters in Washington, D.C. J. Edgar Hoover, the new man in charge of the bureau, orders White to come to Washington to... (full context)
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
History, Truth, and Lies Theme Icon
In 1924, the attorney general of the United States selected J. Edgar Hoover, the twenty-nine-year-old deputy director of the bureau, to serve as acting director amidst a climate... (full context)
History, Truth, and Lies Theme Icon
...“type faster than they [shoot]” and are mocked, by old-timers, as “Boy Scouts.” Upon entering Hoover’s office, White looms over the director—a man of “modest stature,” so insecure about his height... (full context)
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
History, Truth, and Lies Theme Icon
...bureau’s investigation—and subsequently escaped into the Osage Hills, robbed a bank, and killed a police officer—Hoover is now desperate to quell rumors of the bureau’s role in the Thompson affair, and... (full context)
History, Truth, and Lies Theme Icon
Hoover asks White—a veritable “cowboy” familiar with the wild ways of the west—to direct the investigation... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Third Man
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
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Hoover is anxious about growing criticism pertaining to the case and dissatisfied with White’s infrequent updates.... (full context)
Chapter 16: For the Betterment of the Bureau
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...the struggle to obtain justice is just beginning—but is also aware that back in Washington, Hoover is growing impatient. (full context)
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
Hoover wants White’s investigation to be “a showcase” for the new, restructured bureau. Hoover, too, longs... (full context)
History, Truth, and Lies Theme Icon
...edicts and vast changes, and White, too, “chafe[s]” at many of the reforms—yet he adheres Hoover’s new protocols, replaces his cowboy hat with a fedora, and toes the line. (full context)
Chapter 17: The Quick-Draw Artist, the Yegg, and the Soup Man
Racism and Exploitation Theme Icon
...fall of 1925, White feels the pressure to solve the case continuing to mount—both from Hoover and from his own knowledge of the Osage tribe’s fear, desperation, and feelings of injustice. (full context)
Chapter 18: The State of the Game
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
...middle of the night in order to do the job, and White excitedly writes to Hoover with news of the confession. White and his men begin working to corroborate Lawson’s statement. (full context)
Chapter 19: A Traitor to His Blood
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In early June, Hoover catches sight of a headline referring to White’s alleged coercion tactics in a local newspaper.... (full context)
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White is relieved, and quickly sends a message to Hoover informing him of the news. Though he is, for the moment, off the hook, White... (full context)
Chapter 20: So Help You God!
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For Hoover, the Osage murder investigation becomes “a showcase for the modern bureau,” and the press, reporting... (full context)
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
History, Truth, and Lies Theme Icon
The press and radio praise Hoover and the bureau, dramatizing the Osage case for listeners around the country and spreading far... (full context)
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Family, Legacy, and Trauma Theme Icon
...and the assistant attorney general wants White to come in and help stamp it out. Hoover doesn’t want White to leave the bureau, but White decides to take the new job... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Hot House
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A series of high-profile crimes in the 1930s which fall under the jurisdiction of Hoover’s bureau further establish its legitimacy, and soon agents are empowered to make arrest and carry... (full context)
Racism and Exploitation Theme Icon
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
History, Truth, and Lies Theme Icon
...Fred Grove, begins writing his and his team’s story, and, in the late fifties, contacts Hoover to ask him to write an introduction. Hoover, through the associate director of the bureau... (full context)